Murder trial begins in 2008 shootings near Garfield High
Nearly six years after 15-year-old Quincy Coleman was gunned down in a gang-related, drive-by shooting outside Garfield High School, a 22-year-old man is now standing trial in connection with his death. D’Angelo Saloy is charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.
Seattle Times staff reporter
D’Angelo Saloy, a South Seattle gang member, wanted payback for the shooting death of his friend and didn’t really care who he killed so long as it was a member of a rival gang, a King County deputy prosecutor said Tuesday in opening statements in Saloy’s first-degree-murder trial.
At 8:22 p.m. on Halloween night 2008, 15-year-old Quincy Coleman, a Central District gang member, was hanging out with friends on stairs behind Garfield High School, Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Berliner said.
A light-colored Ford Taurus drove by, then circled back: “There was no fight, no argument, no confrontation. They just started shooting,” Berliner said of Saloy and the driver of the car.
Coleman was shot twice in the back and died at the scene, she said.
Coleman was one of six teenagers fatally shot that year in Seattle, a casualty of the violence between Central District gangs and those in the city’s South End, she said. Also killed was Pierre “Pete the Sneak” LaPointe — and his death pained and angered Saloy, who wrote about LaPointe in rap lyrics and social-media posts, Berliner said.
Saloy, now 22, is on trial in King County Superior Court, charged with first-degree murder for Coleman’s death.
Saloy is also charged with attempted first-degree murder for allegedly wounding a second teen, Demario Clark, who survived the shooting.
Both charges also carry firearms enhancements and gang aggravators that could increase Saloy’s sentence range if he’s convicted.
Saloy was arrested in September 2012 as he walked out of the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton, where he had served an 11-month sentence for second-degree assault on a police officer and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Defense attorney Julie Gaisford didn’t name names, but intimated that others were responsible for Coleman’s death.
Three of Coleman’s friends gave descriptions of the Taurus’ driver to police, she said, and Clark apparently identified someone else in connection with the shooting.
“If Demario Clark gets on the stand and says the name he shouted out that night, you will be shocked, you will be dumbfounded,” Gaisford told jurors.
But no one knows if Clark — who is described in court documents as being “hostile” to investigators — will actually show up to testify.
And court records show that while Seattle homicide detectives identified the driver of the Taurus, he was never charged due to a lack of evidence.
Though the state and defense disagree about Saloy’s culpability, both Berliner and Gaisford told the jury there is no DNA or fingerprint evidence in the case.
Saloy, who was 16, didn’t have a cellphone at the time, so his movements couldn’t be tracked through phone records.
There also isn’t a murder weapon: Even though four guns were recovered from Lake Washington by a civilian diver on two separate occasions — exactly where Saloy is alleged to have told a friend he tossed .38- and .40-caliber weapons after the shooting — they were so corroded that they couldn’t be test-fired and compared to .38-caliber bullets recovered from Coleman’s body.
The police investigation stalled until 2010, when agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security threatened to deport Juan Sanchez and his parents to Mexico unless Sanchez gave them information about criminal conduct, Berliner told the jury.
Sanchez, who belongs to the same gang and was close friends with Saloy, agreed to wear a wire while he and Saloy drove around listening to music and Saloy confessed to the fatal shooting, Berliner said.
Police have said video from the recorded conversation also shows Saloy urinating on Coleman’s memorial marker at the high school, according to court documents.
But Gaisford said Saloy can be heard on the recording saying he was “as high as the sky.”
She also said Saloy claimed in the recording to have used hollow-point bullets, though Coleman was killed with different ammunition.
“If you confess to a crime, wouldn’t you remember the ammunition you used?” Gaisford asked.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org